TWELVE months ago the Queensland Country Women's Association officially launched Country Kitchens, a program designed to get people back to basics in the kitchen so they could live a healthier, happier life.
Since then, program co-ordinator Fiona McKenzie and her team of nutritionists have delivered 21 workshops, visited 15 communities, and have met nearly 3000 people across Queensland.
Mrs McKenzie said the program was funded by the Queensland Government, and delivered five key messages.
"Country Kitchens is about getting more fruit and vegetables in your diet, checking your portion sizes, sitting less and moving more, cutting back on sugary drinks and cooking at home,” Ms McKenzie said.
"Our aim is to educate people on nutrition, teach them how to correctly read food labels, explain serving sizes, and build on current skills and confidence in the kitchen.
"We want to help people make healthy recipe modifications and adaptations.
"We want to teach people how to make vegetables taste better with simple cooking techniques and if necessary, adding that extra vegetable without the picky eaters detecting it.”
The program has been a success so far, and Mrs McKenzie said it has been rewarding to see QCWA members get on board.
"The QCWA ladies now understand the role they can play, which is fantastic because QCWA has such a great reputation for helping people,” Mrs McKenzie said.
"We've trained nearly 100 QCWA ladies from branches located all across Queensland. These ladies are willingly embracing recipe modifications, and they want to share their cooking skills with other members of the community.
"They're working with schools, children and busy working mothers, and are coming up with their own ideas for local health promotion.
"The strength of the program is imparting those important health messages to the community.”
Another advantage of the Country Kitchens program is attracting a younger generation to be involved with the QCWA.
"The Country Kitchens workshops are available to everyone. We've been teaching an age group that averages about 40, while the average age of QCWA members is around 60, so we are attracting a younger generation,” Mrs McKenzie said.
"We're also getting a few men to our workshops, which is great. A few branches have been working closely with the Men's Shed groups - that community activity is so important.
"Seven out of 10 people are facing a health issue of some kind, whether it is heart disease, diabetes, or carrying extra weight. We need to get those figures down, and that's the aim of Country Kitchens.
"This program is definitely the first of its kind in Queensland and Australia, and possibly the world.”
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